Dancing Graces

Grace On-line

As more and more people use our homepage to find their way to dances, workshops, and classes, we at Dancenet On The Web feel increasingly responsible for how they behave once they get there. Accordingly, we have decided to ask our well-bred arbiter of dance etiquette to Grace our pages-- for the first time, on-line!

Dear Grace:

When I'm dancing with someone, lots of times another woman will start tapping me on the shoulder when the music is barely over. It's flattering that they want to dance with me, but it feels weird not even being able to say goodbye to one partner before starting off with another! What should I do?


Dear Rushed:

In these troubled times, when the art of dancing--like that of tying one's cravat--is no longer an essential part of a gentleman's education, men often find themselves sadly outnumbered on the dance floor.

Still, the scarcity of partners at a dance is no excuse for a lady to pounce on an available gentleman the instant the music ends. Aside from being rude, it can give weaker-minded gentlemen what is colloquially known as a swelled head. Consider this, ladies: is it healthy for a man to believe that he merits such exertion?

As a gentleman, there is little you can do in this situation except to smile graciously at the offender, accept her proposal unless committed to another, and ask her to wait a moment so that you can walk your current partner off the dance floor.

Dear Grace:

After a dance, who is supposed to say "thank you"--the man or the woman?

Gender Bender

Dear Gender Bender:

Yours is the sort of query that warms Grace's heart, for you assume that gratitude should be expressed after a dance. And quite rightly. Thanks are always required, even if your partner's dancing reminds you of when your kid sister tried out her first pair of ice skates.

Unfortunately, in this era of soundbites, channel-hopping and the shocking acceptance of e-mail as a legitimate form of communication, the average person's attention span has so shrunk that it is hard enough for him to keep his mind on his partner during a dance, much less to remember to say "thank you" afterwards. Hence I am inclined to cheer on the practice without worrying greatly about who thanks whom.

But to answer your question: saying "thank you" has nothing to do with gender. Rather, the person who asked the other to dance should thank his or her partner for the pleasure. Since in the past this was always the gentleman, many people think the gentleman should always tender his gratitude to his partner, even if dancing with the lady was not his idea. But if the lady initiated the contact, it is proper for her to proffer her thanks.

Not that there is ever anything wrong with the asked party saying "thank you," or "that was fun" or something else appreciative. It is always good manners to make another person feel comfortable.

Do you have questions about proper behavior on the dance floor? Please send them to DanceNet.
Copyright © DanceNet, June, 1996. All rights reserved by the author. These articles are intended for the reading pleasure of the DanceNet On The Web readers. Duplication or use in any other medium, including but not limited to print publication, another web site, or downloading to a storage medium on CD, floppy disk, hard drive, zip drive, or tape, without the written permission of the author is prohibited. You may make an announcement about the Dancing Graces on your web site, but please point them to DanceNet On The Web; do not hyperlink to the Dancing Graces pages directly.
Updated June 23, 1996

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